Individual Differences In Test Anxious Students: Effects Of Cognitive Structures On Test Performance And Therapy Expectations

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The academic behavior and performance, and psychotherapy expectations of high test anxious undergraduates were assessed in this study, with the goal of demonstrating the existence of clinically significant subgroups within the sample. Three cognitive structures, Resultant Achievement Motivation (RAM), Locus of Control, and Self Perceived Ability Level, were used as independent variables, as was subject's gender. Interactions between Resultant Achievement Motivation and the other main factors were also explored. No overall pattern of clinically significant differences between subjects was found to exist which was attributable to main effects of cognitive structures or sex. A consistent pattern of significant results was found, however, in the RAM x Self Perceived Ability interaction data. Subjects who were high in achievement motivation, but who defined themselves as having limited ability were found to have the highest frequence of self-defeating study habits and attributional tendencies, the poorest performance on measures of achievement, the lowest expectations of change in therapy, and the highest frequency of preferring a treatment program almost uniformly perceived as ineffective. An ego defensive, self-handicapping, explanation for this pattern was proposed. Inferences were drawn about the unique clinical needs of this subgroup of the test anxious population, a group which appears to comprise about 16% of the whole.


Psychology, Clinical

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